Tough Guys Walk the Labyrinth

The one spiritual exercise I had always been uncomfortable with was the labyrinth.
Uncomfortable is the wrong word—something to describe “a waste of time” would be more appropriate. In recent years, I had seen more instances where participating in the labyrinth was available at various conference events (i.e. Bishop’s convocation, retreats, Annual Conference, etc). I had done some investigation into what was involved; however, I concluded this was something that was of little interest to me. I knew there were better things I could be doing with my time. I have changed my outlook somewhat thanks to my participation in a children’s camp this summer.

During the summer semester, I held an internship position with my annual conference. One of my responsibilities was to attend the various camps scheduled. The first one I attended was for fourth and fifth graders. Yes, there is nothing like sharing a room with (18) ten and eleven year olds! While I was an observer, I also co-led one of the groups. There were many activities for each group to participate in during the week. Of course, there was the labyrinth. Our group made its way to the designated area at Mt. Wesley (Kerrville) and I figured it would be over with soon enough. The other co-leader read the instructions to the children, and made mention that we would be there for at least thirty minutes. Well, leaders should set a good example; so, I participated in my first labyrinth.

I did not have written material to follow, and began my journey midway through the entire group’s process. It was impressive to me the childrens’ quietness and seemingly genuine participation in this experience. They were an example to me. As I walked through the first half I battled the usual distractions that, regardless of any situation, come to my mind. Then it happened—true silence. Well, not a lack of sound, but a true sense of mental direction and contemplation. What I could hear was the small steps of the little ones ahead of and behind me, and the joyous voices of those in the other areas of the camp. Longer story short, as I allowed the various turns to direct my thoughts I believe I received a reminder from God. That reminder came in a message; that message was to not forget them (children). I have worked with youth and children for over a decade. Often you wonder if your efforts are making a difference. That speaks more to the issues that can arise in ministry with youth and children and not to the importance and value we have in working with them and their families. This was a feeling I had been contemplating for a while before this camp. I ha d been in a time of wondering if I was what my young people needed.

Of course, I was reassured that all the negative points that come are well worth the endurance of them. At least that’s what I felt. So, my first experience with the labyrinth proved to be a reassuring moment in my faith and ministry.

0 Responses :